How red and pink Starburst might make Kevin McCarthy the next House speaker

When then-House Speaker John Boehner abruptly announced his resignation in September 2015, the assumption among many ...

Posted: Apr 13, 2018 7:29 AM
Updated: Apr 13, 2018 7:29 AM

When then-House Speaker John Boehner abruptly announced his resignation in September 2015, the assumption among many people was that Kevin McCarthy would easily step into the vacuum.

After all, the genial California Republican was the House Majority Leader, the 2nd highest-ranking job within the GOP conference. The step-up seemed natural.

Less than a month after Boehner's surprise announcement, McCarthy's ambitions were dashed. A test vote within the closed Republican conference revealed that McCarthy simply didn't have enough support to win. He withdrew his candidacy. Every Republican under the sun begged Paul Ryan to put his name forward, which he eventually did.

Fast forward to Thursday. We are 24 hours removed from Ryan's decision to retire. And suddenly McCarthy is the frontrunner to replace him!

Huh?

At first glance, not much has changed to make McCarthy a clear favorite over House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who is regarded as more of a consistent conservative than McCarthy, or even a member of the House Freedom Caucus (Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan immediately jump to mind.)

McCarthy's ideological profile -- which led to some skepticism within the House Freedom Caucus last time around -- isn't much changed. ("Some conservatives seized the moment as a victory, celebrating the downfall of one of the House's fastest-rising but more moderate stars," read a Washington Post report of McCarthy's loss.)

His gaffe about the Benghazi subcommittee being set up to hurt Hillary Clinton politically, which helped foment doubts, is still there.

The only thing that changed? Donald Trump is president now -- and McCarthy has gone out of his way to ensure that the two of them are tight as ticks.

You should read every word of the Post's profile of McCarthy and his cultivation of Trump but, in case you don't, here's the key bit:

"McCarthy's singular role as Trump's friend and fixer over the past year - a courtship of backslapping and flattery that has led to eye-rolling among Democrats and skeptical Republicans.

"From talks about the midterm elections at Camp David to a strategic interjection at a bipartisan immigration meeting, McCarthy, 52, has sought to position himself as Trump's indispensable man in Congress, an easygoing Republican who gets him - and likes him."

So great is McCarthy's desire to ingratiate himself to Trump that, noticing that Trump only ate red and pink Starburst candies, McCarthy ordered an aide to pick out only those colors -- them put them in a jar and delivered them as a present to Trump.

Yes, that really happened.

(Nota bene: The key to understanding Trump's likes and dislikes: He likes people who are nice to him, who cater to him and who are loyal to him. He doesn't like people who don't/aren't. The end.)

Relations between the two men have grown so warm that when rumors first began to circulate about Trump firing White House chief of staff John Kelly, McCarthy's name showed up on every short list out there as a replacement.

Which brings us right up to today, when everyone and their brother seems totally invested in making sure McCarthy is the next leader of House Republicans.

After Scalise said Thursday morning that "I've never run against Kevin and wouldn't run against Kevin," Ryan immediately seized on that statement as some sort of acknowledgment by the Louisiana Republican that he was stepping aside for McCarthy.

"I was encouraged that Steve Scalise said this morning that he thinks, you know, that after the election that Kevin McCarthy ought to be the person to replace me after the elections," Ryan said, taking at least some liberty with what Scalise was actually saying.

(Saying you wouldn't run against McCarthy doesn't mean you think McCarthy should be speaker. It means that if McCarthy isn't able to get the votes, then Scalise could step in.)

While the White House has formally avoided showing any sort of preference for a race that is six months away, you can bet all of your bank account that McCarthy has been telling every colleague he can about how tight he is with the President.

Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if he had printed out the Post profile and highlighted the Starburst story!

That McCarthy is currently considered the frontrunner to replace Ryan speaks to the power of Trump among the rank-and-file Republicans in the House. This is a guy they rejected two years ago bevcause he wasn't conservative enough (among other reasons). But because he is friends with Trump and the President thinks McCarthy is a good guy, that appears to be enough for some members to sign off on the California Republican as the frontrunner to be leader.

Now, the race, as I noted, isn't likely to happen for months. Lots can change. And being the frontrunner today is less valuable than being the frontrunner in December.

Still, the resurrection of McCarthy's chances of leading his party can be traced back to Trump. And red and pink Starburst.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501652

Reported Deaths: 10024
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34353540
DeSoto32162408
Hinds31977631
Jackson24508383
Rankin22015390
Lee15596235
Madison14597280
Jones13867243
Forrest13461252
Lauderdale11998317
Lowndes11065188
Lamar10522136
Pearl River9547237
Lafayette8557140
Hancock7740127
Washington7443160
Oktibbeha7147133
Monroe6787178
Warren6706176
Pontotoc6677104
Neshoba6642206
Panola6542131
Marshall6476135
Bolivar6323150
Union605794
Pike5824152
Alcorn5676102
Lincoln5439135
George497479
Scott473098
Tippah470381
Prentiss469182
Leflore4663144
Itawamba4640105
Adams4592119
Tate4592111
Copiah448792
Simpson4448116
Yazoo444887
Wayne440072
Covington429094
Sunflower4240105
Marion4232108
Coahoma4168107
Leake408688
Newton381779
Grenada3711108
Stone360664
Tishomingo360092
Attala331789
Jasper330165
Winston314691
Clay308977
Chickasaw301067
Clarke292594
Calhoun279447
Holmes267987
Smith264150
Yalobusha234547
Tallahatchie228251
Greene219449
Walthall218764
Lawrence213140
Perry205956
Amite205256
Webster203046
Noxubee186840
Montgomery179657
Jefferson Davis172243
Carroll169338
Tunica160039
Benton149239
Kemper141941
Choctaw133326
Claiborne132837
Humphreys129638
Franklin120328
Quitman106528
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94734
Sharkey64220
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 820312

Reported Deaths: 15407
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1148731924
Mobile726221339
Madison52362697
Shelby37640350
Baldwin37266552
Tuscaloosa35120612
Montgomery34123740
Lee23540246
Calhoun22236488
Morgan20958378
Etowah19838500
Marshall18381304
Houston17394412
St. Clair16078339
Cullman15468293
Limestone15354199
Elmore15271286
Lauderdale14323295
Talladega13851283
DeKalb12664261
Walker11221370
Blount10207176
Autauga10048148
Jackson9877184
Coffee9211191
Dale8904185
Colbert8877201
Tallapoosa7093198
Escambia6778134
Covington6715183
Chilton6648162
Russell637559
Franklin5969105
Chambers5612142
Marion5010127
Dallas4979200
Pike4796106
Clarke475884
Geneva4575127
Winston4522103
Lawrence4327117
Bibb425386
Barbour357876
Marengo338390
Monroe331664
Randolph329864
Butler326796
Pickens316584
Henry312866
Hale311688
Cherokee302960
Fayette294180
Washington251651
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245375
Clay243368
Macon234863
Lamar224847
Conecuh186353
Coosa180340
Lowndes175464
Wilcox168939
Bullock151744
Perry138940
Sumter133238
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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Columbus
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Oxford
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High pressure will dominate our weather forecast for our Tuesday. This means we will see some good weather for our Tuesday. However, some rain and thunderstorms will be in our weather forecast down the line with some more low pressure in our area.
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